Sunday, May 31, 2009

Creation vs Evolution

I was just reading an intriguing post about the Creation / Evolution debate written by Austin Archer a former professor of mine and my current boss.

I’ve always been baffled by the intensity of debate between those who choose to separate themselves into two diametrically opposed camps of “creationists” and “evolutionists”. It has never seemed like a big deal to me to think that perhaps God used evolution as one of the ways He created the world. The idea that a sacred deity might utilize natural laws to carry how His divine will just isn’t a stretch for me. I don’t particularly care HOW God created life, so long as I know that He did it with purpose.

While I don't agree with everything he had to say, I really liked the notion that Charles Scriven proposed about laying aside the "mutual disdain" that the two opposing camps have so long justified themselves with.

I appreciated the reaction comment by Loren Seibold who said:

"In the end, what needs to be achieved is not a mutually acceptable theory of creation/evolution, but the maturity to disagree and still be respectful."

There are several issues at work throughout Austin's blog posting, the Charles Scriven article he refers to and all the comments associated with each. The basic questions they bring up for me are these:

To what extent can we peacefully agree to disagree on issues and when do we have an obligation to stick up for one particular belief as "right", naming anything contradictory as "wrong"?

Also, what criteria will I use personally to determine "truth"?

Which issues will I consider important to explore/examine/study to understand and which things can I pass by as not of any particular concern or interest and still regard myself as a reasonably informed person?

There are other thought this sparks for me as well ... Thanks Austin for continuing to teach me by helping me to question and consider. Whether it be as a student in your classroom, working with you at STAR, in private conversations or reading your blog I have benefited and learned from you in so may ways.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Limbo Land

I'm still waiting to hear about the teaching job I interviewed for. It has been an interesting process to watch how hope, fear, excitement, and dread keep looping around in my head.

I want this job. Still, I am fearful about assuming the role of full time faculty.
For the past dozen years I've always had some OTHER sort of job for my full time bread and butter work and then done my teaching one or two nights a week (or online) on the side. WORK was something I did to pay the bills. TEACHING was something I did to feed my passion. I have some concern that if my passion becomes my work I may burn out on the one thing that I truly love.

Christmas is fun, but I wouldn't want to do it every day. If it was always Christmas, it would cease to be special.

One of the primary reasons diamonds are considered valuable is that they are relatively rare.

If I am teaching day in, day out year after year after year will it lose the magic?

Part of me thinks it would be better to get some OTHER sort of job in Idaho so I could continue that pattern of keeping my teaching as something "extra" on the side.

But another side of me says I'm sick to death of balancing two jobs and I sincerely do want to turn in my crazy workaholic membership. I want to achieve greater BALANCE in my world. I want the time to simply be and breathe.

IF I were teaching full time one of the blessings would be having my job be doing something I really love. But an equally potent blessing would be having all those yummy breaks away from the work. Week off for spring break, week off for Thanksgiving, two weeks off for Christmas, three months off for summer...yeah, I could get used to that.

But I have heard nothing back from the school yet. I thought I would by now. I KNOW these things take time... but when I interviewed on the 22nd they said they had it narrowed down to just me and one other person, and they hoped to make a decision by the following week. Well, that week has now come and gone without a peep from the college.

What does that mean?
It may mean that they are just slower than they had hoped.
It may mean that I missed this opportunity.
Right now there is no way to know.

So I wait...with hope and fear, excitement and dread.

This uncertainty and anticipation are not my favorite place to be.

But it is what it is.

So I wait.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Write Yourself a Letter

I just opened up yesterday's mail. There was a letter to me from me.

Let me explain.

Several weeks ago I attended a professional workshop. One of the things the facillitator did at the end was pass out a bunch of sheets of fancy stationery and have each participant write a note to themselves to remind us about the most important things we learned from the training and to follow up to see if we had implemented those things. We then sealed these in envelopes addressed to ourselves and turned them in. Now, 6 weeks after the training, she is mailing them to us as a "check in" of whether we did the things we said we would do.

Sort of a cool technique I may use myself in a few different ways.

This is what my letter to myself said:

Take a deep breath and be kind to yourself.
Identify three people:
1) someone you can trust to vent to
2) someone you can ask for help
3) someone you can ask for direction

You are where you are right now for a reason. It's not forever. Take what blessings and lessons you can from this experience. Give what contribution you can and allow that to be enough. Remember to breathe.


I like the reminder. I plan to put the note into a new envelope, stick a stamp on it and hand it off to a friend to mail to me again in a couple months. I have a feeling those words may come in handy in more ways than one.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Amazing Journey of Gabe & Me

One of the interesting outcomes of having married a man 12 yrs older than myself is that along with my husband came four step kids, two of which were closer to me in age than my spouse. Larry's oldest son, Darrin, is now 44. He married at 39 to a dynamite lady named Kris who just happened to have an 18 yr old son. That son had a son shortly there after, the young man you see pictured here - Gabriel. This means that without ever having been a parent himself, Darrin went straight forward to the fun part, being a GRANDPA. Kris & Darrin get Gabe nearly every weekend and have many fun adventures with him.

Today I got to have an adventure of my own with Gabe, hiking up the creek, naming rocks, making bridges for squirrels, examining lichen and appreciating stink bugs. We had a blast. It seems odd at the ripe old age of 51 to be considered any one's great-grandmother. But that's what Gabe knows me as. Maybe it is stretching the point a bit since I'm merely the step-mother of his step-grandfather. Clearly, there are no blood ties between myself and this young man. But family ties have far more to do with choice and aknowledgement and commitment to one another than they do with who begat who.

The ties we build while having "a journey in the wilderness" (as Gabe called it) together in the woods count for so much more than genetics.

I had a great day today visiting with cousins and kin of all sorts ...some with bonds of blood, some united by marriage, some merely affiliated by choice. We looped around through all the incarnatons of "step", and "half", inlaw and outlaw...but all one amazing FAMILY.

This reunion reminded me very much of a different gathering from many years back...when I was a young mother with two little boys celebrating the 100th birthday of my own great grandmother. I described that in a story for Ensign magazine back in 1990 called The Tapestery Called Family.

We are primed by our families of origin to establish certain expectations about what it means to be a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife, or any other relationship. Because of my own experiences with MY great grandmother my initial assumptions of that role is to think of someone who is old, frail, disengaged from life. But just as I have chosen to have a very different style of marriage and very different parenting style from those of my parents and grandparents, I will also begin brand new traditions in this role.

I look forward to exploring and expanding what it means to be a great grandma to Gabe and all the others who come after him when my own grandchildren start families of their own. Kaylie is now 14 with other siblings following, so in another 10 to 15 years I expect there may be several new faces in the mix. I'm up for it. I think I make an awesome great grandma.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pins and Needles

I'm in Idaho once again - scheduled for my SECOND interview for the full time sociology faculty job I am hoping for. Yes indeed, I made the first cut into the final top three.

I have SERIOUS butterflies. I am trying to let go of all expectation, to simply trust God and the universe to know what is best. I keep trying to pray "thy will be done." But I WANT this so bad I can taste it. It seems like such a right fit for both me and for my family for MANY different reasons.

DON'T get your hopes up I tell myself - stay in a state of optimistic acceptance of whatever may come to pass. But it's too late. Once I got the call that I made the cut my hopes did all sorts of flip flops in my belly. I do want it with a keening hunger that steals my breath.

Heck, I got so excited about the possibility I started pulling books off my many bookshelves and packing to move. Yeah, I get it that is WAY premature. But I had so much nervous energy I couldn't help myself. I packed 10 boxes which are all neatly labled. Garden books. Paperback novels. Old classics. Church books. Sociology books. This isn't a matter of being over confident. I TOTALLY get it that I do not have this job wrapped up. It was more a matter of completely focusing on the reality I desire and preparing for that to happen. It's not that big of a deal if I have to put the books back. If I DO get to move as I want to then yippee, I'm ahead of the game.

I pray for calm. I pray for willingness to accept whatever comes. But right on the heels of that I keep falling back to: Please God, please, please please, if it be possible, let this opportunity come.

I'll be on pins and needles till I hear. I have some nagging concern that if the answer is no - not this job, not this time, not this place that I just may crash and burn. I would hope not. But I suspect the disappointment would be huge. So I am trying to put on the brakes for my eager anticipation about having this particular dream come true. Maybe this is something else all together. Maybe this is just to be a test of my resilience? Maybe this is one more experience of coping with heartache and loss?

I KNOW God lives, I KNOW God loves me, I KNOW God hears my prayers. Yet I also know that sometimes the answer to those prayers is no. I trust that when He does say no that it is not capricious disregard. I know He has my very best interest at heart. But I also know that a big part of this fallen mortal world is to test and refine us and that adversity is a huge part of that plan.

So while I trust & have faith that in the ETERNAL realm whatever happens will be for my good, I do not trust that it will work out feeling good NOW.

So I'm worried and nervous, scared and all wobbly inside.

Oh, how I want this.

But I will breathe deep and do the best I can to be calm.

Interview at 11:30 today Idaho time.

I'll let ya know how it goes.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Finding My Fit

On Friday I interviewed for a full time teaching position at a community college in Idaho. The interview went extremely well. At no point in the process did I feel like I was posing or trying to SEEM like what they wanted. I was simply able to present myself as authentically as possible and describe the way my background would be a match for their needs. EVERY single question they asked seemed like a match to my strengths. Then I did a 15 minute teaching demonstration that went very well. Through the whole process I felt like I was "In the Zone", able to communicate clearly from my own personal best space. There is not one single thing I would change about anything I said.

So now I wait to see if I make it to the next round in the selection process. I think it would be an ideal match. But for all I know, they could have known exactly who they wanted for the job before the screening ever began - which happens a fair amount in academia. What I know for sure is that if for any reason I do not get this job it will not be due to any misstep on my part. I gave it my very best shot. Now I just wait to see how it all unfold.

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Hunt for Gollum

I'm totally jazzed over a link I just picked up from Papa Herman's blog.

Doug Levy, for the Daily Dose, wrote:

Fan-made film taken to new levels

Director Chris Bouchard’s The Hunt for Gollum revisits the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy with a glimpse at a previously unseen part of the tale.

The results belie the miniscule budget. Bouchard made the 40-minute film for just a few thousand dollars, employing makeshift camera equipment, orchestra synthesizers, and volunteer digital animators. Most of the cast and crew — roughly 160 in all — donated their time after realizing the extent of the undertaking.

Familiar faces abound. The film follows Aragorn’s quest to track down the titular ring-craving creature, also featuring appearances from Gandalf, Arwin, and other LOTR characters. The actor portraying Aragorn bears more than a passing resemblance to Viggo Mortensen, while the wizard is a dead ringer for Ian McKellen.

It’s available to watch for free. In order to steer clear of potential problems with movie studios and the Tolkien estate, the filmmakers agreed to make the production completely nonprofit, meaning that the final result is yours to enjoy in its entirety free of charge.

To see the film visit the ‘Hunt for Gollum’ click HERE

Crazy 8 Meme

I picked this one up over on Mimi's blog...seemed like something fun so here are my answers:

8 Things I am looking forward to:

1. Moving to Idaho
2. Watermelon that has taste (note to self, in future no matter how tantalizing they look in the store, do NOT buy watermelon until at least June. May watermelons taste like cardboard, I don't care where they are grown.)
3. Seeing the hollyhocks I planted bloom
4. Next year's Bright Monday picnic (and the one after that, and the one after that...) This is a tradition very worth keeping.
5. Travelling to Italy. (Ok, so this one is not exactly in the works right at this very moment...but SOMEDAY I'll get there yet. Hey, it's MY list, I'm keeping it!)
6. Seeing the new Star Trek movie
7. Getting my laptop back WITHOUT it's slow as molasses in January problems.
8. Did I mention moving to Idaho? Yeah, I know I did. But that is what I am REALLY focused on these days.

8 Things I did yesterday:

1. Worked on Second Chance Act grant and got totally overwhelmed by all the federal reporting requirements
2. Picked up a bed donated by a very nice lady
3. Visited with a dear friend who I trust and respect
4. Appreciated all the trees blooming in Walla Walla
5. Watched the French film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - AMAZING Story!!! Can't wait to read the book. Maybe I should have put that up above??
6. Looked at various real estate websites for homes in Nampa and Meridian
7. Enjoyed time with my dog
8. Started planning the talk I will give in church this Sunday

8 Things I wish I could do:
1. Stay focused on gratitude in the face of adversity
2. Soothe the suffering of people I love
3. Speak Spanish fluently
4. Play the piano
5. Knit (No, I did not forget to take of Mimi's answer, I'm just stealing it. I've never learned how because I just don't sit still long enough. But it seems like a cool and worthwhile practice. Maybe I'll learn??)
6. Keep my office clean and organized for longer than 3 days.
7. Go on vacation - Italy, Greece or even Yellowstone. Unfortunately, due to dollar constraints and work commitments it probably is NOT going to happen this year. Sigh. I guess I'll have to be satisfied with a trip to Utah for Memorial Day.
8. Swim with confidence. I can swim, but I'm always just a little nervous in water over my head. A couple serious near drownings - one as a kid and one as an adult - have made me very wary of water.

8 Shows I Watch

1. House
2. Grey’s Anatomy
3. CSI
4. Star Trek Voyager
6. Numbers
8. (Actually that's about it, and I don't watch any of those faithfully...they are simply things I have watched, sometimes watch or would watch again. I honestly could not tell you what channel any of them are on, what time they play or even what days... I just go grazing for media once in a while and these will catch my fancy.)

That's all that was included in the original meme. Just for the fun of it I am adding these:

8 Life Lessons I have benefited from (or am TRYING to put into practice)

1. Don't sweat the small stuff. (and most everything is small stuff.)
2. There is no such thing as getting it wrong. There is just different outcomes. EVERY path we take will have advantages and disadvantages. Be willing to be open and learn from whatever comes.
3. Take good care of your feet. (and the rest of your body while you are at it.)
4. Find something to TRULY feel grateful for every single day.
5. While relative morality and tolerance for just about everything may be popular, some things really are wrong.
6. Living with integrity matters.
7. Learning something new is great, but there is also tremendous value in REMEMBERING what you already learned and actually putting it into practice.
8. Live with passion.

Ok - there is is. I'm not tagging anyone, but feel free to play along if you choose

Criteria for LIFE

My beloved and I have been looking at lots of houses on the Internet. There are still many things that have to fall into place before we can get serious about this move we want to make, but we are doing lots of pre-planning to be sure we are clear on what our priorities will be when we are ready to make the move to Spudland.

When we look at houses we make two lists: first there is the list of absolute deal breakers - the criteria we MUST have (within a specific price range, all on one level, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a garage, trees in the yard) and things we MUST avoid (busy streets, chronic smell of sugar beets being processed, one-butt kitchens.)

Then we have a whole laundry list of our PREFERRED criteria...things we would really appreciate but can negotiate around. Some are things we could add later if they are not in place when we buy it, some are things that if we had to we could live without.(separate living room / family room, pantry for food storage, fully fenced yard, underground sprinklers, dining room suitable for entertaining, etc etc)

As I think of those lists for looking at houses, it makes me ponder what sort of lists I would craft for my life.

What are the criteria I absolutely MUST have? What are the deal breakers that I am absolutely committed to avoiding no matter what?

What are the things that I hope to accomplish / achieve / incorporate, the things that I wish for and will look for, but can get by with if I do not have?

How do I decide which is which?

I've often heard the story about boiling frogs. It is said that if you toss a live frog into hot water it will leap out, but if you put that same frog into cold water and then increase the temperature bit by bit the frog will adapt to the changes until you have yourself a boiled frog.

Too often people are like that too. Circumstances that would absolutely violate our values if we were confronted with them all at once can creep up on us gradually.

From the physical realm to the metaphysical, I want to get clear on the bench marks I need to look to as guide posts of when I am on track and when I have lost my way.
In terms of physical health...I do NOT ever want to be one of those women who is obsessed with weight or size. But I do want to continue to work toward improving my health. In my 20's and 30's I was pretty trim. However, over the last 10 years I have gained about 3 lbs per year. Do the math. Uh, yeah. It was never a lot at once. Hardly noticeable. But the cumulative effect is that these days I'm a pretty big girl. I decided to do something about it, so I changed my pattern of diet and exercise and managed to drop thirty pounds a year ago. But then I changed jobs so I no longer had access to the college fitness center and I relapsed into emotional eating during stress. As a result,about half of that weight I worked so hard to lose is now back and more is creeping...

So now I need to decide. To what extent am I willing to make a serious commitment about what goes in my mouth and how much I move? How much will those changes be something I absolutely am determined to stick to and how much am I willing to wobble when my job or other circumstances change?

Then I look at other areas, from my prayer life to my finances, my involvement in my community to the ways I relate to family and friends. What are the standards in each of those areas that matter most to me? What ones are negotiable?

Obviously there are things I do not have much control over. It makes sense to be able to accept things that come my way on the winds of change that are outside my sphere of influence. But I am convinced that as I get more mindful of the places where I do have room for choice, I can craft a life by design rather than rolling over and taking whatever I get by default.

Sometimes I go to open houses in neighborhoods where I KNOW I would never choose to live because looking at different kinds of houses gives me ideas of things I might incorporate in other spots. In the same fashion, I look to my friends, my family, my associates for how they fashion their lives NOT so I can keep up or compete in any way. Instead I look to them as role models of both the qualities I might emulate and the characteristics I would NEVER want to demonstrate.

So I am getting more deliberate on my Moving Toward values...the things I want to invite into my life AND my Moving Away values...the things I want to reduce or eliminate insofar as it is possible.

I would love a life where I lived in total integrity every minute of every day.
I am not there yet. But I'm working on it.

I would love a life where I was in a conscious state of gratitude far more consistently than I currently manage.

I would love a life where I never said an unkind or hurtful thing to or about anyone ever again.

In these and a myriad of other ways I am seeking greater clarity by taking honest assessment of where I am now and where I would most like to be. Only by knowing both of those without distortion or bias can I make progress to get from one to the other. If I rationalize or justify or excuse any place I miss the mark as "not that big a deal" or minimize it by saying "it could be worse", then I am not likely to try to change it. This is not about beating myself up for being less than perfect or falling back into old habits of pouring angst over myself any time I think I am "getting it wrong". It's about taking stock in a meaningful way that serves me.

It is about being mindful and fully present in my own life. It's about seeking out the proper balance between introspection and going with the flow. It's about knowing when to accept things as they are and when to say no, I want to change that.

So I will continue my house hunting. I will recognize that I do not need a PERFECT house. I just need a house that is comfortable enough to be my next home. And along the way, I will look inside my head, my heart, my spirit, my body to see what things feel "just right" and what things I may want to shift a bit. I think it makes sense to consider myself a work in progress WITHOUT denigrating myself for my flaws.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

More Idaho Pics

Here are a few more scenes from over the weekend. Is it any wonder I want to spend more time here?


Sunrise from the porch





Norman J. T-Bone


I just got back from a fabulous weekend spent with my brother and his wife who live just outside Boise, Idaho. They have an amazing retreat on five acres which they have developed into a non-profit horticultural therapy and education center. All sorts of groups come out there for workshops, service projects, meditation, music, you name it. If things work out the way I plan I will be living there for a while helping out at the center. Much yet to be defined, but before the year is out I hope to be living in Idaho. I'm ready to be a spud.

The Greenhouse

By brother's house at Valli Hi

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